Mr. Brunell was ordained as a minister in the Lutheran Church in 1978. He served as a pastor in both Finland and Australia. He preached and ministered in Swedish, English, and Finnish during his career as a minister.
Eventually, he ceased to believe in the teachings of the Lutheran Church, and ultimately came not to believe in Christianity at all. Because of this, he could not in good conscience continue as a minister. At the same time he ceased to be a Lutheran. Although he left the church because he could not reconcile his beliefs with church teachings, he also left the church because of what he saw as shabby treatment at the hands of the church hierarchy.
Despite that he stopped believing in the Christian faith, he never stopped believing in God. For six years, he and his family had no formal religion. He describes this as a religious "no man's land." He recalls that he had "no holidays to celebrate, and not even a calendar to follow."
After six years of deep soul searching, he, his wife, and four daughters all decided to convert to Judaism. The first answer from the Orthodox Jewish establishment was “no,” as is required according to conversion laws. But he would not take “no” for an answer. Eventually the leaders relented, and all were converted. Upon conversion, Mr. Brunell changed his first name from “Ole” to “Shlomo ben Avraham,” and his wife changed her name from “Runa” to “Ruth.” These are names frequently chosen by converts. The family retained the name “Brunell.”
Mr. Brunell wrote of his experience in a book entitled “Strangers No More: One Family’s Exceptional Journey from Christianity to Judaism,” ISBN 965-229-304-0 published by Gefen Publishing House in Jerusalem in 2005.
- Rosally Saltsman, "Heavenly Ordained", Jewish Press, August 15, 2007.
- En unik odysse fran Osterbotten till Israel Kirkpressyn torsdagen, June 16, 2005, p. 14. (in Finnish)
- Jenny Hazan, review of "Strangers No More". Jerusalem Post, 19 November 2005. Quoted by Gefen Publishing House, Strangers No More Book Details